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Aspiring Intellectual
I was a young music student and aspiring intellectual when I first became privy to the crimes of the School of the Americas. The broader humanities had struck my fancy as I removed past musics from their academic vacuums and returned them to their time and place, to their historical contexts. As I learned about Bach, Beethoven, and Bartok, I couldn't help but wonder about the many extramusical factors that influenced their composition; and conversely, the ways that their music contributed back to their cultural, intellectual, political milieus.

So I enrolled in several humanities courses during my time at UCF, each examining the humanities (philosophy, art, science, architecture, religion - that which distinguishes us as humans) of a different era. The modern humanities began to touch on a time and culture with which I was more familiar, to which my own so-called postmodern era was responding. This was the era where the crimes and ideology of the nefarious School of the Americas fell squarely into place. And my own generation's response to the tragic existence of the SOA has been rather typical: ignorance, ambivalence, apathy.

Will these be the hallmark of postmodernism, the legacy of my generation? Not if I have anything to do with it!

The School of the Americas is a US military agency that trains latin American soldiers and dispatches them back to their countries to commit terrible atrocities against their own people. Graduates are notorious for murdering diplomats, educators, political and religious leaders, union and community organizers, missionaries, and virtually anyone working to organize or help poor and exploited people in these underdeveloped countries. Renamed WHINSEC, it continues to this day, proliferating a violent, repressive, and imperialist US foreign policy in Latin America.

It sounds unreal, like something US-ians would never allow to exist; but most people have no idea that it does.

I began soaking it in myself during the fall of 2007, at the aforementioned humanities course. We read about the life and activism of Rigoberta Menchu, about US military engagement in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, about the SOA. I could no longer feign ignorance.

The following fall I made plans to join the annual two-day protest and vigil at the gates of Ft Benning, GA, where the school calls home. This event has occurred for over twenty years, organized by the ever vigilant SOAWatch and attended by thousands of religious, radical, and peacenik groups persistently calling for the close of the school. The numbers exceeded 20,000 that year and I was proud to be in their number.

It was heart breaking to hear the names of thousands of torture and murder victims read off, each repeated by the haunting chant "presente." It was also empowering to see the solidarity shared by so many people working for peace and justice in the world.
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I've just returned from my fourth year at the event. I have played on stage, taught workshops, joined direct action groups, played drums and participated in puppetista parades. I have also joined actions in NYC and DC with music and solidarity. But most importantly, my song Pax Americana is largely inspired by the evils of the SOA and I have repudiated the school many times in my blog writings. I have thus found my own place as an artist and writer in the 21st century USA and global economic empire. I have contributed to the humanities of my era and perhaps we'll see our collective social consciousness increase as a result.

Until then, the school remains open, funded with taxpayer dollars while most people remain totally unaware of it's existence and the numbers at the annual vigil dwindle and the unspeakable violence of the SOA continues.

BUT! Now that you're swimming in the still shallow pool of collective consciousness regarding the SOA, you can also do your part. Educate yourself, educate others, and support the SOAWatch! One way you can do this, while also supporting my contribution to the humanities, is by supporting the Zombie Music Campaign for peace and justice. Part of the money supports my recently released album, Protest Songs (Are Dead), which includes the song Pax Americana. Another 10% will go to SOAWatch so that they can continue to shed light on the SOA and its crimes, until it is finally closed.

 



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